We’ve settled into a rhythm in the last few weeks in Siskiyou County – listening to the morning briefing from the McKinney Fire broadcast by Scott Valley News; keeping an eye on the Siskiyou OES Facebook page for updates on evacuation warnings and orders; and of course monitoring the Klamath National Forest and CAL FIRE Siskiyou Facebook pages for updates on McKinney and Yeti fire activity.
That rhythm has changed in the last few days for the better, as our brave firefighters have achieved astounding progress towards containing both fires. The Type 1 Team working on the McKinney Fire was able to transition to a Type 2 organization (reflecting the containment inching up towards 100%) and the Type 2 Team assigned to the Yeti and Alex fires was able to transition to a Type 3 organization several days ago. Behind the scenes, your local firefighters along with outstanding support from firefighters from across the West, have responded to a steady number of lightning-caused fires – including several with potential to grow rapidly.
Yesterday’s lightning storm brought roughly one hundred lightning strikes across the Klamath National Forest, with many more on neighboring lands in northern California and southern Oregon. As of this morning, we are actively working on eight new starts. We are making good progress on all of these new fires with assistance from local volunteer fire departments, municipal departments, neighboring national forests, and CAL FIRE firefighters. Clear skies allowed us to get water-dropping planes and helicopters on these new starts early along with smokejumpers and heli-rappellers for the more remote fires. Two new smokes have been reported this morning and crews are working their way into them as I write this.
We have been fast, we (and our partners) have been effective, but we’ve also been lucky. Because there is limited fire activity going on around the West, we’ve been able to hang onto some of the extra resources that Forest fire leadership ordered up to prepare for potential fire activity.
I’ve been grateful for that foresight on the part of Forest Fire Chief Appling and his assistant Chiefs Josh Schmalenberger and Heather McRae over the last few weeks. I’m particularly glad of it now as temperatures spike and we look at an even more significant forecast for lightning tonight.
Please be careful out there – a new fire two nights ago which prompted midnight evacuations in and around Happy Camp was human-caused. That fire was contained at a half-acre and its cause remains under investigation. Your diligence in taking care to limit possible sources of wildfire helps our firefighters focus their time and energy on the fires that we have, and remain prepared for any new lightning-caused fires we may get.
Rachel Smith Forest Supervisor
Klamath National Forest and Butte Valley National Grassland
1711 S. Main St. Yreka CA 96097 www.fs.fed.us
Caring for the land and serving people